The Funeral Mass of Fr. Michael Scuderi, O.S.A.
Fr. Joe Genito, O.S.A
Lamentations 3: 17-26
2 Timothy 4: 1-8
Mark 8: 27-38
Could the readings tonight be any more appropriate in relation to Michael’s life? The author of Lamentations seems gloomy, life being such drudgery and pain, but then he says that it is for this very reason that we have hope. God’s mercies are not spent; there’s more to come, and that will be the reward beyond what we experience here and now. As tough as it was for him, Michael always chose to hope, to be optimistic.
Paul in 2ndTimothy emphasizes perseverance, running the marathon of life, and Michael certainly had a long, hard haul, replete with obstacles and trials, but he hung in there and never gave up.
The mandate that Jesus gave his disciples about taking up the Cross and following him was a daily exercise for Michael. What Jesus said to his disciples, after they acknowledged him as the Messiah, was that the glory which was promised would come only after suffering and death. But it would come for those who kept trying every day, and Michael embraced the cross of suffering, accepting the mission entrusted to him at his baptism and in his priesthood and religious life as a believer in Jesus as the Messiah. He understood the reason for his infirmity was to be a meaningful symbol to others of the suffering Christ.
Everyone has to deal with something; nobody gets out of life without trials and challenges. Sometimes they are physical like his, but just as often people have heartaches and tragedies on another level, like addictions and mental illness, both theirs and the people they love.
Michael identified with people in their suffering in ways that gave them encouragement. The people he served in Saint Rita’s and elsewhere knew it. They came to him in the sacrament of Reconciliation, they asked him to guide them spiritually, they identified with his suffering when he prayed with them in healing services. His legacy, like Paul’s, was that his suffering was not in vain; through it he touched the lives of many.
In his Augustinian life he showed special care and attention to those around him, especially if they were far from home. He treasured his family and would make it a priority to invite them to his family’s house on holidays and other occasions. He had an expansive sense of compassion for others.
Michael’s strength of spirit far outshone the limitations of his body which were a constant struggle for him. His guts and determination overcame many hurdles.
So many times he was told he could not do certain things only to prove the critics wrong. He didn’t like to hear the word “can’t.” One might mistake it for obstinacy if they did not know how important it was to him not to be defeated by the vicious disease which constantly plagued him. He had a lot of heart in that small body.
Michael’s strong faith propelled him to keep trying, to keep running the race. His commitment to Jesus Christ was lived out in the belief that he was called to serve others in the only way he knew how – completely and unselfishly. He got it - that following the Messiah meant suffering and trials first, and he saw them as his reason to have hope, knowing that the Lord’s mercy is never spent and with each new day came the possibility of overcoming those barriers.
Now he has finished the race and, like Paul, he competed well, giving himself totally to Jesus Christ in service to his people. The crown of righteousness is his. May this indeed be our consolation, all of us who love him and will miss him.